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Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Child Development Research
Volume 2014, Article ID 575142, 8 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/575142

Research Article
Crosslinguistic Developmental Consistency in
the Composition of Toddlers’ Internal State Vocabulary:
Evidence from Four Languages
Susanne Kristen,1 Sabrina Chiarella,2 Beate Sodian,1
Tiziana Aureli,3 Maria Genco,3 and Diane Poulin-Dubois2
1

Ludwig-Maximilians University, 80802 Munich, Germany
Concordia University, Montr´eal, QC, Canada H4B 1R6
3
The “G. d’Annunzio” University of Chieti-Pescara, 66100 Chieti, Italy
2

Correspondence should be addressed to Susanne Kristen; susanne.kristen@psy.lmu.de
Received 14 June 2014; Accepted 28 July 2014; Published 21 August 2014
Academic Editor: Glenda Andrews
Copyright © 2014 Susanne Kristen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Mental state language, emerging in the second and third years of life in typically developing children, is one of the first signs of an
explicit psychological understanding. While mental state vocabulary may serve a variety of conversational functions in discourse
and thus might not always indicate psychological comprehension, there is evidence for genuine references to mental states (desires,
knowledge, beliefs, and emotions) early in development across languages. This present study presents parental questionnaire data on
the composition of 297 toddler-aged (30-to 32-month-olds) children’s internal state vocabulary in four languages: Italian, German,
English, and French. The results demonstrated that across languages expressions for physiological states (e.g., hungry and tired)
were among the most varied, while children’s vocabulary for cognitive entities (e.g., know and think) proved to be least varied.
Further, consistent with studies on children’s comprehension of these concepts, across languages children’s mastery of volition
terms (e.g., like to do and want) preceded their mastery of cognition terms. These findings confirm the cross-linguistic consistency
of children’s emerging expression of abstract psychological concepts.

1. Introduction
From an early age, children label their own as well as
others’ sensations, perceptions, and epistemic states. Studies
show that early talk about internal states (ISL) is related
to precursor abilities of a theory of mind (ToM) (e.g.,
perspective taking) [1]. It might thus be used as an indicator of
children’s early ToM, that is, children’s understanding of their
own and others’ psychological world. It seems even possible
that assessment of internal state language could be used to
measure the developmental progression of early childhood
ToM. This may be of great value as a complement to standard
ToM tasks in different research contexts. Note that so far
instruments such as the ToM scale developed by Wellman and
Liu [2] are not usable for children younger than 3 years of age.
In regard to what is known about the development of
internal state talk, this ability to talk about the mind begins

to emerge late in the second year of life with a rapid spurt
in the third year of life [3]. Based on findings derived
from an extensive literature review on children’s internal
state words and natural speech samples of a cohort of 20month-olds, Bretherton and colleagues [3] concluded that
children up to 36 months of age produced mental state words
from six categories: perception (e.g., hear, taste), physiology (e.g., hungry, tired), affect/emotion (e.g., happy, sad),
volition/ability (e.g., need, can), moral judgment/obligation
terms (e.g., good, supposed to do), and cognition terms (e.g.,
know, think) [3]. Following up on these findings, Bretherton
and Beeghly [4] asked 30 mothers to document the internal
state word utterances of their 28-month-olds and created
a 78-word checklist for assessing toddlers’ internal state
word production, the Internal State Language Questionnaire (ISLQ). The authors found that at that age children
produced on average 37.2 words from the checklist (48%).

2
Specifically, at 28 months, children produced perceptual
(69%), volition/ability (69%), and physiological (64%) words
the most, followed by emotional (46%) and moral (44%)
words, with cognition (28%) words being produced the least.
The relatively late emergence of cognitive words was also
documented by Shatz and her colleagues who examined
two-and-a-half- to four-year-olds and noted that cognitive
terms were most often used by children in the third year
and used for pragmatic conversational functions [5]. In a
longitudinal study by Bartsch and Wellman [6], 10 children
were followed from the age of 18 months to five years during
which their internal state language utterances were examined.
From the everyday conversations that were collected from
the CHILDES database, the authors found that among the
200,000 collected utterances, 12,000 included inner state
terms and could be classified into two major categories:
thought and belief terms (e.g., think, know) and desire terms
(e.g., want, wish). Desire terms began to be produced between
18 and 24 months of age, whereas belief terms emerged only
around the third year. The findings also revealed that thought
and belief terms only began to match the frequencies of the
desire terms at five years of age.
While references to inner states can be found in all
languages, the bulk of the published research has focused
on English speakers. Nevertheless, the development of desire
terms before belief terms has also been reported in the speech
of children who speak languages other than English, including Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, and French children [7–
10]. To date, only one study has directly compared linguistic
groups on the entire range of internal state word categories.
In 32-month-old English- and French-Canadian children,
Poulin-Dubois et al. [9] found a developmental sequence
similar to Bretherton and Beeghly [4]. Across languages,
children produced more perceptual (78%) terms followed by
physiological (69%), volition/ability (68%), and emotional
(67%) words, with moral (52%) and cognitive (38%) words
lagging significantly behind all other word categories. Taken
together, the findings from Poulin-Dubois and her colleagues
provided the first evidence that the distribution of internal
state words is similar across languages.
To replicate and extend these findings it seems crucial
to compare yet larger samples of children speaking different
languages in regard to the composition of their vocabulary for
internal states. How similar, or different, is the composition
of children’s internal state term vocabulary across languages
from a range of Western cultural groups? Thus, the current
study aimed to explore crosslinguistic consistency in the size
of and in the composition of internal state vocabulary in
a sample of Italian-, German-, English-, and French-speaking
children. Based on previous research, children’s mental lexicon at 30 months was hypothesized to be especially rich
in physiological, volitional, perceptual, and emotional terms,
while children’s vocabulary for moral and obligation terms
was expected to be less varied across languages. Finally, children’s cognition vocabulary was expected to be less varied.
More specifically, it was expected that, across all languages,
children’s desire and ability terms would be more varied than
their cognition terms.

Child Development Research

2. Method
2.1. Participants. The sample included 297 participants (147
females): 64 Italian children (37 females), 68 German children (33 females), 91 English-Canadian children (43 females),
and 74 French-Canadian children (34 females). Further
demographic information can be found in Table 1. Note that
in the English-Canadian sample 𝑛 = 7 mothers and in the
French-Canadian sample 𝑛 = 4 mothers did not indicate their
educational level.
Both French- and English-speaking participants were
recruited from birth lists provided by a government health
agency in Montr´eal, Canada. When children were on average
32 months of age the families were sent either the English
or French version of ISLQ, in accordance with the primary
language spoken at home. German children were originally
recruited using birth lists as part of a longitudinal study on
precursor abilities of a theory of mind and mothers filled
out the German adaptation of the ISLQ when children were
tested at the Infant Laboratory at the University of Munich
at 30 months of age. Italian children and their mothers were
recruited from hospital records and mothers filled out the
Italian version of the ISLQ when their 30-month-olds were
tested at the Infant Laboratory at the University of ChietiPescara.
2.2. Measure. The ISLQ [11] used in this study was adapted
from Bretherton and Beeghly [4] and includes a checklist of
78 words divided into 6 different categories, more specifically
(1) physiology (e.g., hungry, tired), (2) volition/ability (e.g.,
want, can), (3) perception (e.g., see, look), (4) emotion/affect
(e.g., happy, nice), (5) moral judgment/obligation (e.g., good,
must), and (6) cognition (e.g., know, understand). Parents
were given written instructions to check off as many words
as they had heard their child say. The Italian, German,
and French versions were adapted from the English original
version in order to obtain a representative list of commonly
used internal state terms in each category for each language.
Not all items from the English questionnaire had translation
equivalents in each language. Further, in order to increase
comparability across samples, a cutoff criterion for infrequent
words was established. In each language, outliers (𝑛 = 2
Italians, 𝑛 = 1 German, 𝑛 = 2 English-Canadians, and 𝑛 = 1
French-Canadian) and terms produced by 20% or less of the
sample were excluded. An outlier was defined as a data point
that is located outside the fences (“whiskers”) of the boxplot
(outside 1.5 times the interquartile range above the upper
quartile and below the lower quartile) (see Tables 2, 3, 4, and
5 for a complete list of items divided into the aforementioned
categories in each language). The discrepancy in the number
of items across questionnaires (Italian version = 67 items,
German version = 60 items, English version = 75 items, and
French version = 64 items) and categories was addressed by
using the proportion of words produced in each category
relative to the total number of words in the category.

3. Results
The descriptions for ISLQ scores in each language can be
found in Table 1.

Child Development Research

3
Table 1: Descriptions of study measures.
Language group

Mean age in months
M (SD)

Maternal education

Number of siblings
M (SD)
ILS overall
M (SD)
Range
Physiology
Perception
Volition/
ability
Emotion/
affect
Moral
judgment/obligation
Cognition
+


Italian

German

English

French

30.63 (.50)
53%
Secondary
education+
47%
Postsecondary
education∗

30.13 (.35)
48%
Secondary
education
52%
Postsecondary
education

32.14 (1.42)
43%
Secondary
education
57%
Postsecondary
education

32.11 (1.64)
31%
Secondary
education
69%
Postsecondary
education

.48 (.98)

.82 (.62)

.78 (.90)

.85 (.93)

67.40% (18.85%)
25%–97%
80.73% (17.17%)
44%–100%
72.44% (16.83%)
36%–100%
62.11% (31.81%)
0%–100%
68.81% (22.39%)
12%–100%
66.99% (22.64%)
13%–100%
48.75% (28.14%)
0%–100%

67.70% (20.28%)
25%–100%
91.96 (10.96%)
50%–100%
86.18% (17.37%)
30%–100%
83.82% (22.73%)
0%–100%
65.17% (22.78%)
14%–100%
55.15% (32.98%)
0%–100%
39.54% (30.32%)
0%–100%

66.92% (19.68%)
20%–100%
76.43% (20.94%)
11%–100%
74.13% (20.40%)
31%–100%
72.09% (29.80%)
0%–100%
75.13% (18.67%)
30%–100%
53.24% (27.14%)
0%–100%
41.58% (29.75%)
0%–100%

59.14% (21.36%)
9%–100%
75.00% (21.90%)
25%–100%
70.64% (24.38%)
0%–100%
63.51% (31.29%)
0%–100%
59.46% (22.99%)
8%–100%
56.08% (27.53%)
0%–100%
33.11% (28.43%)
0%–100%

High-school diploma/A-levels.
Bachelor’s/Master’s degree.

The main objective of the present study was to compare
children’s overall ISL scores across languages, in order to
explore crosslinguistic consistency. In order to explore the
amount of children’s internal state language across languages,
a one-way ANCOVA with language group (Italian, German,
English, or French) as independent variable and children’s
overall ISL percentage scores as dependent variable was
conducted. Preliminary point-biserial and Pearson productmoment correlation analyses (all two-sided) revealed no
significant effect of age on children’s ISL scores, while child
gender (𝑃 ranging from 0.00 to 0.65 across languages), number of siblings (𝑃 ranging from 0.02 to 0.60), and maternal
educational level (𝑃 ranging from 0.02 to 0.92) significantly
influenced ISL scores. Thus, these factors were entered as
covariates into the analysis. The effect of language group on
children’s overall ISL scores (65.26%) was not significant:
𝐹(3, 279) = 2.27, 𝑃 = 0.08, and 𝜂2 = 0.02. To assess the relative mastery of physiological (80.49%), perceptual (75.66%),
volitional/ability (70.49%), emotion/affect (67.59%), moral
judgment/obligation (57.35%), and cognition (40.55%) items,
a 6 × 2 mixed model ANOVA with category as within-subject
factor and gender as between-subject factor was conducted.
A significant main effect of category, 𝐹(5, 1475) = 227.91,
𝑃 = 0.00, and 𝜂2 = 0.64, emerged, but no significant main

effect of gender was noted. Thus gender was not accounted
for in subsequent analyses.
Post hoc pairwise comparison with Bonferroni adjustment revealed that children used more physiological terms
(80.49%) than terms from any other category. Further, they
used significantly fewer (𝑃 < 0.001) perceptual terms
(75.66%) than physiological terms, while they used more
terms (all 𝑃 < 0.001) from the perception category than terms
from any other category (all 𝑃 < 0.05), except physiology
terms. No significant differences between volition/ability
(70.49%) and emotion/affect (67.59%) scores emerged. However, children had significantly higher (all 𝑃 < 0.001) volition/ability and emotion/affect scores than moral obligation
scores (57.35%). Finally, children produced significantly fewer
(all 𝑃 < 0.001) cognition terms (40.55%) than terms from any
other category.
To explore the relative distribution of internal state terms
across categories in each language, ANOVAs with one withingroup variable (category) and the proportion of produced
words in each category as the dependent variable were
conducted separately for each language. In the Italian sample,
a significant main effect of category (𝐹(5, 315) = 30.47,
𝑃 = 0.00, and 𝜂2 = 0.33) was revealed. Post hoc analyses
with Bonferroni corrections indicated that Italian toddlers

4

Child Development Research
Table 2: Italian questionnaire (Questionario per Linguaggio Mentale).

Percezione
Vedere
Osservare
Udire
Farsi male
Ascoltare
Assagiare
Odorare
Sentire
Freddo
Congelarsi
Caldo
Scottare
Bollente
Bruciare

Fisiologia
Avere fame
Avere sete
Avere sonno
Dormire
Addormentato
Stanco
Sveglio
Svegliarsi
Malato

Emozione/Affettivit`a
Felice
Divertente
Sentirsi (bene,
male)
Male (sentirsi male)
Meglio
Bene
Bene (sentirsi
bene)
Simpatico
Mi Piace
Amare
Scherzare
Triste
Furibondo
Spaventato
Pauroso
Disordinato
Schifoso
Sporco
Abbracciare
Baciare
Ridere
Sorridere
Piangere

Aspirazione/Abilit`a
Volere
Dovere
Potere
Ardere

Cognizione
Sapere
Pensare
Credere
Ricordare
Dimenticare
Forse
Capire
Fingere
Sognare
Indovinare

Moralit`a/Obbligazione
Buono
Brutto
Capriccioso
Potere
Lasciare
Essere supposto
Essere obbligato

Table 3: German questionnaire (Fragebogen f¨ur den Internalen Wortschatz).
Perzeption
Sehen
Anschauen
(Zu)h¨oren
Weh tun
Schmecken
Riechen
Anf¨uhlen
Frieren
Heiß
Warm sein

Physiologie
Hungrig
Durstig
M¨ude
Schlafen
(Auf)wach(en)
Schlecht sein

Emotion/Affekt
Gl¨ucklich
Lustig
F¨uhlen (gut, schlecht)
Schlecht (f¨uhlen)
In Ordnung sein
Besser
Gut (f¨uhlen)
Ok
Nett
M¨ogen
Lieben
Traurig
¨
Argerlich
Angst (haben)
Gruselig
Schmutzig
Chaotisch
Eklig
Umarmen
K¨ussen
Lachen
Weinen

Volition/F¨ahigkeiten
Wollen
Brauchen
M¨ochte
K¨onnen
Schwer (zu tun)

Kognition
Wissen
Glauben
Vergessen
Vielleicht
Verstehen
So tun als ob
Tr¨aumen
Echt
Raten

Moral/Obligation
Gut
Schlecht
Gemein
D¨urfen
Lassen
M¨ussen
K¨onnen
Sollen

Child Development Research

5
Table 4: English questionnaire (Internal State Language Questionnaire).

Perception
See
Look
Watch
Hear
Hurt
Listen
Taste
Smell
Feel (soft, warm)
Cold (feeling cold)
Freezing
Hot (same as for cold)
Warm (same as for cold)

Physiology
Hungry
Thirsty
Sleepy
Sleep
Asleep
Tired
Awake
Wake up
Sick

Emotion/Affect
Happy
Have fun
Funny
Feel (good, bad)
Bad (feel bad)
To be all right
Better
Good (feel good)
O.K.
Nice
Like
Love
Have a good time
Surprised
Sad
Angry
Mad
Scared
Scary
Dirty
Messy
Yucky
Hug
Kiss
Laugh
Smile
Cry

produced significantly more physiology items (80.73%) than
items from any other category (all 𝑃 < 0.01), while they
produced as many terms from the volition category (62.11%)
as from the perception (72.44%), emotion/affect (68.81%),
and moral judgment/obligation (66.99%) categories. Finally,
they produced significantly fewer cognition terms (48.75%)
than terms from any other category (all 𝑃 < 0.01).
In the German sample, the main effect of category
(𝐹(5, 335) = 116.72, 𝑃 = 0.00, and 𝜂2 = 0.63) was
significant. Post hoc analyses with Bonferroni corrections
indicated that German toddlers produced significantly more
physiology items (91.67%), perception items (83.82%), and
volition items (86.18%) than emotion/affect terms (65.17%),
moral judgment/obligation terms (55.15%), and cognition
terms (39.54%) (all 𝑃 < 0.001). Further, children produced
more terms from the emotion category than from the moral
judgment/obligation category (all 𝑃 < 0.001). Consistent
with children speaking Italian, children speaking German
produced significantly fewer items from the cognition category than from any other category (all 𝑃 < 0.001).
In English-Canadian children, a significant main effect
of category (𝐹(5, 450) = 87.13, 𝑃 = 0.00, and 𝜂2 = 0.49)
emerged. English-speaking toddlers produced significantly

Volition/Ability
Want
Need
Have to
Can
Hard (to do)

Cognition
Know
Think
Remember
Forget
Maybe
May
Understand
Pretend
Dream
Real
Guess
Mean

Moral Judgment/Obligation
Good
Bad
Naughty
May
Let
Supposed to
Have to
Should
Can (for permission)

more terms from the physiology (76.43%), volition (72.09%),
perception (74.13%), and emotion/affect (75.13%) categories
than from the moral judgment/obligation category (53.24%)
and cognition category (41.58%) (all 𝑃 < 0.001). Their
production of cognition terms lagged significantly behind
their production of terms from all other categories (all 𝑃 <
0.001).
A significant main effect of category also emerged in the
French-Canadian sample (𝐹(5, 315) = 30.47, 𝑃 = 0.00,
and 𝜂2 = 0.33). French-speaking children produced more
terms from the physiology category (75.00%) than from
the volition (63.51%), emotion/affect (59.46%), moral judgment/obligation (56.08%), and cognition (33.11%) categories
(all 𝑃 < 0.001). Children’s perception scores (70.64%) did
not differ significantly from their physiology and volition
scores. However, while children’s volition, emotion/affect,
and moral judgment/obligation scores did not differ significantly from each other, children’s perception scores were
significantly higher than children’s emotion/affect and moral
judgment/obligation scores (all 𝑃 < 0.001). Consistent with
the findings in the other languages, French-speaking children
were found to produce significantly fewer terms from the
cognition category than terms from all other categories (all
𝑃 < 0.001).

6

Child Development Research
´
Table 5: French questionnaire (Questionnaire sur le Langage des Etats
Mentaux).
´
Emotionnel/Affectif

Perceptif

Physiologique

Voir
Regarder
Entendre

Faim (j’ai faim) Heureux
Soif (j’ai soif)
S’amuser/Avoir du
Dormir (je
fun

Vouloir
Besoin (j’ai besoin)
Pouvoir (je peux)

´
Ecouter

m’endors)

Drˆole

Difficile, dur

Fait mal

Dormir (je ne

Fier (ˆetre fier de)

(c’est difficile)

Sentir

veux pas

Sentir (bien, mal)

Goˆuter
Toucher
(c’est doux,
c’est chaud)
Avoir froid
Gel´e
Avoir chaud

dormir)
Fatigu´e
´
Eveill´
e/R´eveill´e
(je suis e´veill´e)
Se r´eveiller
Malade

Mal (je me sens mal)
Aller bien (est-ce que tu vas bien?)
Mieux
Bien (ex. Se sentir bien)
Correct (Danny est correct)
Gentil
Aimer (quelqu’un)
Aimer (quelque chose)
Avoir du fun
Surpris
Triste
Fˆach´e
Faire peur (j’ai eu peur)
Sale
D´egoutant, d´egueulasse
Caresser
Embrasser
Rire
Sourire
Pleurer

4. Discussion and Conclusions
This large-scale crosslinguistic study of toddlers’ expressive vocabulary for internal states essentially confirms and
extends the findings of previous Anglo-American research
[4] and research in French- and English-Canadian children
[1, 9]. Consistent with research on children’s ToM [12],
showing that an understanding of desires precedes an understanding of beliefs in preschoolers across different cultures,
the current study shows that, in toddlers, talk about desires is
more varied than talk about beliefs at 30 to 32 months.
Children’s overall mastery of expressions for internal
states was remarkably consistent across the four linguistic
groups. Furthermore, regardless of their mother tongue,
all infants produced fewer cognition terms than any other
mental state language categories. Thus, the ISLQ can be
considered a potential measure for the global assessment
of ToM skills in toddlerhood, a developmental period for
which there is no available battery of theory of mind tasks.

Intentionnalit´e/Habilet´e Cognitif

Jugement
Moral/
Obligations

Savoir
Bon
Penser
Mauvais
Rappeler/ Souvenir (se M´echant/Vilain
Pouvoir (capacit´e
rappeler de)
de)
Oublier
Laisser
Pouvoir
Peut-ˆetre
(est-que je peux?)
Comprendre
Faire semblant
Rˆever
Vrai
Dire (je veux dire)

In addition, across all four languages, as well as across
gender, expressions for physiological states were among the
most varied, followed by expressions of perceptual states,
volitional states and abilities, emotional states, and moral
judgments and obligations. Finally, children’s vocabulary
for purely mental and abstract entities proved to be the
least varied. This developmental sequence, from mastery of
relatively tangible physiological states to that of epistemic
concepts, corresponds to the increase of inner experiencerelated utterances against the decrease of object-related utterances in general language development [13]. Specifically, in
all languages, children’s desire vocabulary was significantly
more varied than their vocabulary for epistemic state terms
(e.g., believe, know). While the current study provides no
longitudinal evidence, the present data, based on a crosssectional design, appears to mirror the sequence of explicit
understanding of these concepts. More specifically, a scale
of theory of mind tasks tested both cross-sectionally and
longitudinally across many languages and cultures revealed

Child Development Research
that diverse desire understanding consistently preceded children’s comprehension of diverse and false beliefs [2, 6, 12, 14–
16]. One theoretical explanation is that desires are easier
to grasp because they do not differ from reality. Cognitive
state terms, however, typically mark a distinction between
the actual state of affairs and the represented state of affairs
and, thus, require metarepresentation (see Apperly et al.
[17] for a discussion of belief-desire reasoning). Further, the
finding of crosslinguistic consistency in children’s overall
internal state vocabulary fits crosslinguistic evidence that
children’s early internal state vocabulary is developmentally
related to children’s epistemic perspective-taking skills [1].
Taken together, these crosslinguistic results suggest that
across languages internal state vocabulary develops during
early childhood and is developmentally related to precursor
abilities of a theory of mind, laying the ground for a fullfledged theory of psychological states.
Overall, while the present data support the conclusion
that there is crosslinguistic similarity in toddlers’ internal
state vocabulary, we also observed few crosslinguistic discrepancies in regard to the patterns of individual internal
state language categories. In comparison to German- and
English- speaking children, Italians’ and French-Canadians’
use of desire terms was not quite as developed at 30 months
of age relative to the emotion/affect and moral/obligation and
cognition categories. This result is consistent with findings by
Tardif and Wellman [10] who have demonstrated variation
in the timing of the beginning and end points of the desirecognition sequence as a function of linguistic and cultural
factors. For instance, there is cross-cultural evidence that
individual differences in parent-child talk are associated with
variation in internal state references [18–21]. Thus, parental
input might account for slight crosslinguistic differences
in children’s internal state vocabulary and should be taken
into account in crosslinguistic research. More specifically,
cultural preoccupations might lead parents to use internal
state language (e.g., desire and emotion talk) earlier and more
consistently in some languages, in order to transmit certain
culturally relevant concepts (e.g., individualism and kinship)
to young children [22]. Thus, future research should compare
not only children’s, but also parent’s internal state talk across
different languages and cultural contexts. Further, since our
results might only apply to normally developing middle-class
children, it seems warranted to extend future crosslinguistic
research and include socially diverse and clinical samples
such as autistic children, who are impaired in both internal
state talk and theory of mind [23]. This paper has compared
Western cultures and Indo-European languages that are
relatively close. Thus, it would be an interesting venue for
future research to compare Western cultures to Eastern
cultures or indigenous cultures. A cross-cultural study comparing ToM development in Chinese children and Englishspeaking children from Australia and the United States found
commonalities as well as specific sociocultural differences
[12]. The exact nature of these differences might depend
very specifically on variability in internal state language use
and other cultural factors. Further, languages from different
language families should be compared. Finally, longitudinal
studies should look at the developmental sequence of internal

7
state language assessing children’s skills at the developmental
milestones of 24, 30, and 36 months. When used across
different contexts, languages, and social groups, parent report
data could effectively help to untangle the various proposals
for how and when children’s talk about the psychological
world develops.

Conflict of Interests
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests
regarding the publication of this paper.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a Grant from the German
Research Council (So 213/27-2) to Beate Sodian and by a
Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada (no. 435-2012-1403) to Diane
Poulin-Dubois. This research was also supported by NICHD
under Award no. R01HD468058 to Diane Poulin-Dubois
and does not necessarily represent the views of the National
Institutes of Health. Further, this research was supported by
a Grant from the University of Chieti-Pescara to Tiziana
Aureli. The authors thank the research assistants who helped
with data collection and the children and parents for their
participation.

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